A Map in Five Parts
By Donna Steiner
I. At Last
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Your kindergarten had a map. Not a single kid had ever left Jersey, so California was as exotic as Cairo. Your big world was bordered by a creek to the east and train tracks to the south. But oh, the landmarks: Copper Avenue hill, where the sharp-tongued Murphy boy lived; Hazlet Avenue, where you listened to Santana on the stereo with your latchkey friend; the farmer’s pond where neighborhood boys duct-taped cheap blades to your ice skate boots. Everyone linked hands and formed a chain. You were so little, so lithe, they gave you the spot reserved for the nimblest, and when everyone let go of the whip you slid for acres.
On Google Maps you travel back in time. Your driveway is on the computer screen; it shows the shadows of sand that eddied from the road. The scene is summer, although today is winter. You are housebound in a blizzard; the only things that interrupt the gray are torches of sumac that line the road. Google Maps contradicts the ache in your bones. Google Maps says you are warm, says you are young, says Jersey is still the free beach, is still the frozen lake, is still the boy with bangs who kissed you and called you babe.
About the Author
Donna Steiner’s essays and poetry have been published in literary journals including Fourth Genre, The Bellingham Review, The Sun, Full Grown People and The Manifest Station. She teaches literary citizenship and creative writing at the State University of New York in Oswego. A chapbook of five essays, Elements, was released by Sweet Publications.